What Anti-Common Core Activism in Tennessee Portends

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Across the country, from Florida to Michigan, Colorado to Alabama, and many states in between, legislators and governors are taking steps to withdraw from Common Core. Nationally, US Senators Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, Rand Paul and others are working to de-fund it, citing federal law prohibiting the government from directing education standards and testing at the state level. Opposition is growing among a broad spectrum.  Randi Weingarten, president of AFT, the second largest teachers union in the country, said earlier this week: “The Common Core is in trouble. There is a serious backlash in lots of different ways, on the right and on the left.”

On Tuesday, Pioneer Institute participated in a rally in Tennessee, a public hearing about the major problems with Common Core, before an audience of several hundred concerned citizens. Watch a clip below from The Tennessean, which covered the event:

The Common Core Panel Discussion, held in Cool Springs, TN,  took place before an audience of several legislators, parents, teachers, and school board members seeking to learn more. Featured panelists included Bill Evers, research fellow at Hoover Institute and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education; Lindsey Burke, Education Policy Fellow at the Heritage Foundation; Jamie Gass, Education Policy Director at Pioneer Institute; Jane Robbins, Senior Fellow with the American Principle Project; and Emmet McGroarty, also with the American Principles Project. Kevin Kookogey was the host. Each panel member gave a 12 minute presentation, after which there was a Q&A session.


TN Rally

The increasing number of states considering withdrawal should come as no surprise, given that there are serious questions surrounding whether states’ adoption of Common Core was truly “voluntary,” as proponents claim. The full picture is less clear – and grassroots activists are rising up against what they view as a mandate imposed by DC-based bureaucrats and special interests, using federal incentives to wrest control from parents and local school boards, without so much as a public hearing.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has publicly dismissed past opposition as a “conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy,” but Pioneer Institute research authored by national education policy experts has raised important questions about the initiative’s legality, implementation costs, and academic quality – questions that have largely gone unanswered. Visit Pioneer’s Common Core Toolbox to read our research.

Since 2009, Pioneer has long argued that instead of pushing an unproven, one-size-fits-all approach to raising student performance, policymakers who truly care about our children’s future should look to the examples set by many states that have already succeeded – starting right here in Massachusetts. And judging by the momentum building all around the country, policymakers ignore these parents’ concerns at their own peril.

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